Versus, Salamander introduce patient tracking for mass casualty disasters

By Eric Wicklund
10:35 AM

Any mass casualty event, from a traffic accident to a plane crash to a structure fire, usually causes chaos among patients and responders. Two healthcare IT companies are looking to ease that confusion with a joint tracking solution designed to guide patient and provider from triage through hospital admission and discharge.

The solution combines Salamander Technologies’ InterTRAX suite of solutions, which allow first responders to track people at the scene of a mass casualty event, with Versus Technology’s Advantages real-time locating system, which gives hospitals clinical-quality location information of patients, staff and assets. Both companies are based in Traverse City, Mich.

“The idea that we can seamlessly track a patient from the wide-open site of a natural or man-made disaster down to a specific hospital bed has huge implications for emergency responders and healthcare professionals responding to a possible pandemic or bioterrorism incident,” said Russ Miller, Salamander’s president and CEO. “But the benefits of this partnership go beyond patient treatment and outcomes. It can help family and friends search for loved ones and can assist with resource management when dealing with overlapping jurisdictions.”

According to Salamander officials, interTRAX creates a detailed date/time stamp history of each patient at the scene and can be used for on-scene command and control, post-incident reporting and even reimbursement. By combining that process with the Versus system, triage, treatment and transport data is sent to the hospital, allowing healthcare providers there to manage the arrival and treatment of patients with available hospital resources.

The system can also be used, officials said, to relay patient information more quickly to friends and family.

“Versus has proven that accurate information is key to decision support in highly critical and often chaotic environments like the emergency department,” said Kevin Jackson, Versus’ CTO. “We believe it is just as critical to mass emergencies. By partnering with emergency response solutions, such as Salamander, we bring an extra layer of awareness and information continuity to first responders, caregivers and families.”

Versus has tested its technology in several mass casualty drills to automate the capture of patient data in the field and its transmission to the hospital. The company took part in the Bethesda Hospitals’ Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP), which included Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Suburban Hospital, the National Naval Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and National Library of Medicine.

“Having real-time information related to the victim’s arrival and location was immensely helpful to the first-time incident commander in his decision making,” said Cindy Notobartolo, division director of ED/trauma, safety and security services at Suburban Hospital, following the Oct. 14, 2010 drill in Bethesda, Md. “Within our patient information system, the patient’s location was tied to triage and treatment data and made available in real-time to all emergency care personnel. The external evaluators were impressed that our tracking ability was 100 percent throughout the exercise.”